[caption id="attachment_2260" align="alignright" width="277"] Rembrandt, Scholar at a Table by Candle-light[/caption]
How much is a publication worth? If you are a professor of economics at the University of California, this study says that each article published in your field's top journals (American Economic Review, Econometrica, and Review of Economics and Statistics) increases your annual salary by 1.5 percent or about $2,053. Here's the abstract, which details a few other factors:
We study salaries of economics faculty at the University of California to determine how publications affect salary. We find that each publication in a top 10 journal has a positive and significant effect on annual base salary of 1.5%, or $2,053. Unlike previous research, our analysis specifies the impact of publications in specific journals. Publications in American Economic Review, Econometrica, and Review of Economics and Statistics have an independent positive effect on salary. Compensation is also affected by faculty rank, seniority, university of employment, and teaching awards. Base salary does not significantly differ by gender, however, gross salary is about 9% lower for women. After controlling for migration and faculty rank, seniority has a negative impact on salary.
Let's plug this in to the calculation that Mike Munger used in a post late last year.
[A] journal article publication is "worth" at least $10k, in terms of increment to future expected value of lifetime salary. A good journal publication, in a top field journal, is worth more than $25k. Sure, you don't get paid by check, when the thing gets accepted. But if you add up the differences in salary, over time, for your whole career, when you are very young, small differences in hiring, raises, and promotion make a big difference. (For example, if a young scholar published a paper, and gets a $1,000 dollar raise, assuming a 10% discount rate, that's $9,427 in present value over a 30 year career. At a 5% discount rate, that would be more than $15,000).
So, if you want money, publish journal articles. Your time is worth at least $100 per hour, maybe more, since you can write a journal article in 100 hours of actual work (and 100x$100=$10,000)
The present value of a $2,503 salary bump over thirty years with 10 percent discounting is $23,596. If the 100 hour figure is still accurate for the top journals listed above, that is $235/hour. Even it takes twice as long to write a top journal article it is still more profitable than publishing in the "average" $1,000/year/article journal. But if you have no chance of making it into the top journals you should aim your sights a bit lower and make up for it by increasing your output. Either way, these calculations show that time spent writing is valuable if it leads to publications.